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Airlines and Emissions Trading - A Glimmer of Hope


Airlines and ET - A Glimmer of Hope  

Tom Markowitz - Saturday, March 03, 2012

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Airlines and Emissions Trading - A Glimmer of Hope
March 2nd, 2012

Two months after the launch of the European Union’s greenhouse gas Emissions Trading System for airlines, the battle continues to rage between the EU and foreign airlines (and their governments). However, a settlement to the crisis may happen in April.

Enerhope’s recommendations for solving the crisis were described on February 1st in “Airlines and Emissions Trading – How Do We Get Out of This Mess?”

On January 1st, the European Union placed “under the cap” of the European Union greenhouse gas emissions trading system all airline flights arriving at and departing from European airports. This EU ETS for airlines covers not only greenhouse gases emitted in EU airspace, but also greenhouse gases emitted over oceans and other continents, e.g. an airline flying from Mumbai to Heathrow must report all of its emissions, including greenhouse gases emitted over Asia. At the end of 2012, the airline must retire allowances equal to all the emissions from this flight.

The EU ETS for airlines has created a confrontation between the EU and foreign governments.

On February 24th, China Daily reported:
“Countries unite to tackle EU flight tax”
“Moscow meeting sees common approach develop against scheme”
“BEIJING / LONDON - A 32-nation conference agreed that Europe should drop its unilateral decision to impose a green tax on airlines flying into the European Union, and a majority of countries signed a declaration opposing it, a senior official said on Thursday.”

In a conciliatory mood, Reuters reported on February 28th that the EU is working towards a solution with the United States and with ICAO, the International Civil Aviation Organization.
“The European Union's executive has repeatedly said the bloc (the EU) would modify its law if a global (aviation emissions trading) scheme existed.
“International indignation over the EU's law on aviation has helped to accelerate progress at ICAO, which (EU Director General for Climate Action) Jos Delbeke said was expected to meet in March in Canada to debate measures, which should be elaborated before the end of the year.
"We need to encourage ICAO to stick to this timetable," Delbeke said.”

Delbeke was probably referring to the ICAO Air Transport Symposium (IATS), “Strategies and Tools for Sustainable Air Transport,” which will take place from 18 to 20 April 2012 at ICAO Headquarters in Montréal.  (If you have better information, please leave a comment.) Although the programme for the symposium does not mention ETS, the event may bring together the aviation industry and EU representatives to solve the crisis.

ICAO’s approach to emission reductions is summarized in the latest edition of the ICAO Journal.

In the Journal, ICAO outlines the options for market-based measures to reduce emissions, favouring emissions trading over carbon taxes or airport taxes. Here is ICAO’s recommendation for solving the EU impasse:

“Meanwhile, at its meeting in November 2011, ICAO’s Council adopted a working paper calling on the E.U. and its Member States to exclude non-E.U.carriers from the E.U.-ETS. An accelerated effort for ICAO Member States to agree on market-based mechanisms that could be applied globally might be the way forward.”

Many media reports and official publications show a lack of understanding of the basic mechanisms of emission trading. Many reports contain errors, referring to the EU ETS as a “carbon tax,” or a “green tax,” or an “airport tax.” The EU and the global aviation industry could improve the emissions trading situation by educating the participants, bringing all parties together in common understanding of the issues.

Here is a selection of January articles in major media on the EU aviation Emissions Trading System crisis:

Emissions trading: Cheap and dirty
By Joshua Chaffin
Financial Times
February 13, 2012
The linchpin of Europe’s effort to curb global warming is at risk of collapse.
When the European Union decided last month to press ahead with a plan to force foreign airlines to pay for the carbon pollution generated by each flight landing at its airports, Brussels policymakers justified their action as the only way to forge a global solution to one of the fastest-growing sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
The policy has indeed succeeded in uniting much of the world – against the EU.

EU to keep emissions levies on airlines amid global opposition
China Daily
February 14, 2012
HONG KONG - The European Union will press ahead with emissions levies for international airlines, despite opposition from countries including China, India and the United States.
"The EU will not suspend the legislation," Siim Kallas, the European Commission's vice-president for transport, said on Monday in Singapore at an airline conference. "It's a very high-profile environmental issue." http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-02/14/content_14597615.htm

COLUMN-Carbon trade peace is safe for now
By Gerard Wynn
February 21, 2012
LONDON, Feb 21 (Reuters) - Once rhetoric surrounding a brewing "carbon trade war" has cooled, non-EU countries are likely accept charges against carbon emissions on their flights arriving in and departing from the European Union. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/21/carbon-trade-idUSL5E8DL17420120221

India mulls law to fight EU carbon tax
Nitin Sethi
Times of India
February 24, 2012
NEW DELHI: The government is mulling a law to ban Indian airlines from participating in the European Union's stringent carbon tax scheme.
India is considering its first retaliatory steps in the wake of 26 key nations' decision - including Russia and China -during a meeting in Moscow on Wednesday to confront the EU for unilaterally imposing carbon taxes on all flights landing or flying out of the eurozone.

EU ETS scheme rejected by airlines
By Salina Patel
Skyport Heathrow
February 26, 2012
CONFLICT has erupted between the EU and airlines operating outside it as they refuse to pay the emissions trading scheme (ETS).
A mass meeting in Moscow saw delegates from dozens of countries including Russia, China, the US and India, come together to oppose the new EU ETS charge, which came into place on January 1.

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